The East and the West
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the western mind in the approach to a deeper realisation of truth is the influence of eastern spiritual teachings. Although the fusion of eastern and western cultures has spawned economic growth and new creative genres in film and the arts, the difficulty now for both cultures is to reconcile the fundamental spiritual divide within the psyche.
Although helpful in the early stages, eastern teachings are unable to penetrate beyond a certain depth because of the tremendous resistance to the truth in our materialistic culture. The western cultural approach to spirituality is to formulate a circuitous route that avoids confrontation with the source of its own unhappiness. It’s in the absence of any true spiritual values that the western mind is seduced by the magical and ceremonial elements of eastern teachings. For someone who practises chanting, visualisation or reciting mantras, the subtlety of the spirit will be imperceptible. The fact is that the East cannot teach the West.
The East is symbolic of the rising sun as the radiance of eternal spirit in every man and woman. The setting sun in the West symbolises death and the demise of human virtue. The original East has now disappeared under the weight of materialism with the scramble for the western privileges of status, wealth and the consumer convenience of the modern era. The rise of western culture began as a reactionary effect of human nature in defiance to the spiritual integrity of the individual at the heart of the eastern culture. Although this divine connection is mostly inaccessible today, there’s still a discernible difference in the physical presence of the people, the eastern psyche being serene and graceful whereas the western psyche emanates a greater vibration of force.
In the early stages of the development of eastern culture, there was an acute awareness of the passage of time as karma and acceptance of the hardships endured in the sacred relationship with the elemental nature of the earth. A devotee could commit himself totally towards attainment with the Atman or Transcendent One. The eastern ethic and sensitivity to the Divinity behind the form recognised the nobility of such an undertaking and the people were united by a cultural ideal built on reverence for the spirit. Provisions for the staple needs of these truth seekers were widely available and the begging bowl was rarely left empty for long; anyone in the western culture looking to replicate this way of life will be assailed by the forces of an affronted society. Today, however, none of the original East remains. The two cultures have merged to create the first world civilisation – western civilisation.
The original eastern culture is described in the epic work The Mahabharata. The story describes the original family and the challenges of people living against the emerging pressure of the West. In those times the past, as a substantive energy of emotional negativity, was less of an impediment to the spiritual presence than today after many thousands of years of intellectual materialism. This enabled certain beings to retain their godhead as a manifested presence of their divinity in existence. Celestial beings such as Krishna and Shiva walked the earth and interacted with the people of the times.
The spiritual master appeared in the East, more as a performer of the miracles of Divine Being than as a teacher. This was because the eastern people, in their absence of not wanting anything which was not naturally provided, were already in union with God so they didn’t need to be taught the truth. The master was provided to delight the people, which is the impulse behind every entertainer who has ever been inspired to perform. Although the working of miracles or siddhis is now rare, they occasionally happen. The most famous exponent in recent times was Sai Baba, the Indian guru who famously conjured mysterious ashes and precious jewels out of thin air for amazed and adoring followers. The error was that those in attendance assumed the miracle was for them and, as so often happens, they drank the water and missed the wave of the master consciousness.
In more recent history, western imperialism began to consolidate its hold on the world. Driven by the ethic of acquisition and greed, the western ingenuity for the exploitation of the earth’s natural resources fired the desire for war and conquest of other lands. The aborigines of Australia are probably the oldest race of people on the earth. Yet even they, on the other side of the planet, were unable to escape the creeping disease of the West, which would eventually infect and decimate their culture. The East finally capitulated and became integrated into this godless and loveless existence.
The whole world has now gone West.